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SC asks Centre to respond within two weeks


NEW DELHI, June 15: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to file its response within two weeks on a habeas corpus petition seeking production of former ULFA peace negotiator Rebati Phukan, who is missing since April 22.

Rebati Phukan is known for initiating peace parleys between the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the Central Government.

A vacation bench of Justice UU Lalit and Justice Deepak Gupta granted two weeks’ time to the Centre to file response on the plea after the Government’s counsel requested for more time to file an affidavit.

The counsel appearing for Assam told the bench that the State Government would place certain confidential documents in the matter before the Court for its perusal.

On June 1, the top Court had sought responses from the Centre and the Assam and Meghalaya Governments on the plea.

Rebati Phukan’s son Kaushik Phukan had approached the apex Court and filed the habeas corpus petition seeking direction to the authorities to produce his father.

The Court was earlier told by the petitioner that Rebati Phukan was last seen in Meghalaya, and according to a journalist, he took medical treatment there.

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has assured all possible help in finding him but they do not know whether he is in captivity, as various central agencies are involved in the case, he said.

Kaushik Phukan has contended that he and his family need protection and that his father must be found. He has also sought transfer of investigations to the Central Bureau of Investigation or any other independent agency and direction to the Assam Police to furnish a status report on its investigation to trace his father.

The petitioner has said that he came to know that on April 20, his father attended a secret meeting with Shantanu Thakuria, a retired bureaucrat, and Pranab Pathak, Advocate General, Assam High Court, wherein a proposed memorandum to negotiate with ULFA chief Paresh Baruah was discussed before being presented before Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Phukan has been working as a peace negotiator between the Centre and the ULFA since 1991 to facilitate a dialogue. (IANS)